Apr 13, 2023 - Sale 2633

Sale 2633 - Lot 13

Price Realized: $ 1,062
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 800 - $ 1,200
(AMERICAN REVOLUTION--1779.) James Willis. Imploring his son to join him in the Continental Army: "I will stand betwen you and harm." Autograph Letter Signed to son James Jr. of Bridgewater, MA. One page, 13 x 8 inches, with address panel and no postal markings on verso; slight loss at intersection of folds, wrinkling. West Point, NY, 13 April 1779

Additional Details

James Willis (born circa 1737) of Bridgewater, MA had been a cooper and laborer in civilian life. He was a veteran when he wrote this letter, having enlisted at the alarm in April 1775, and then serving in Col. Gamaliel Bradford's Massachusetts regiment at Valley Forge and beyond. By this point, the regiment was safe at West Point and seemed likely to remain there. The family was clearly hard-pressed for money, and when Willis learned of a hundred-dollar bounty for new recruits, he sent this letter to his son James Jr. (1762-1830), just shy of his 17th birthday. The spelling is creative.

"Loven son . . . I tack this opertunety to writ to you, to lat you kno that I am wel at prasant, and now theire is a chance for you, if you are a mind to emprovet to your benefit and min, for Sargant Polerd will give you one hunderd dolars down and a sut of clos, bran nu, and gon and cutmaints . . . for the three yers sarves, and if you know what is good for your self and me, I pray come as soon as posbel. It is onley for nine munce. I pray come as soon as posebal and I will stand betwen you and harm. If you han't money, go to your mother and she to bare your expanses up hear. Pray don't fal me. So I reman your one farther, James Willis."

As nearly as we can tell, James Jr. did not enlist until 1781, and then in a different regiment. Both father and son lived to see the end of the war.